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Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality

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How the world's leading innovators push their ideas to fruition again and again

Edison famously said that genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration. Ideas for new businesses, solutions to the world's problems, and artistic breakthroughs are common, but great execution is rare.

According to Scott Belsky, the capacity to make ideas happen can be developed by anyone willing to develop their organizational habits and leadership capability. That's why he founded Behance, a company that helps creative people and teams across industries develop these skills.

Belsky has spent six years studying the habits of creative people and teams that are especially productive-the ones who make their ideas happen time and time again. After interviewing hundreds of successful creatives, he has compiled their most powerful-and often counterintuitive-practices, such as:

•Generate ideas in moderation and kill ideas liberally
•Prioritize through nagging
•Encourage fighting within your team

While many of us obsess about discovering great new ideas, Belsky shows why it's better to develop the capacity to make ideas happen-a capacity that endures over time.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2010

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Scott Belsky

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 399 reviews
Profile Image for John.
72 reviews
July 29, 2013
I'm of two minds about this book. If you're looking for a "how to," read Getting Things Done instead. The "how" of making tasks happen is more pragmatically covered there.

What's compelling about Belsky's book is the sense he gives that many, many conversations led into this book. If you read it as a catalogue of the simple things effective creatives do, there's some things to learn here. Otherwise, it's not terribly compelling.
Profile Image for Nicole Harkin.
Author 2 books21 followers
July 9, 2010
Mr. Belsky, of www.behance.net, does a great job explaining to artists, photographers, and writers how to go about organizing their work flows to maximize their output. I read the book over the last few weeks and have already seen the results. My boss mentioned I was getting a lot of stuff done and asked if I felt overwhelmed with work. Cute.

The book is organized broadly into three areas: Organization and Execution, Community, and Leadership Capability.

So his organizational system goes something like this:

Get a notebook or note cards, whichever you chose, but make sure that it is on paper you like. (You are creative and so find fine paper to be important, so much so that you have a lot of it lying around and don’t really know what to do with all of it.) In the alternative, Behance sells books that are set up to work with the action method.

On the cards/in the book, set up a page for each project you are working on. For each project, write out action steps to take to complete the project and the date that you wrote down the step. The idea is to help you stay on task. Then set up a section for backburner projects that you don’t want to forget, but are not yet working on. These projects might eventually move to the front burner.

I have found that outside of work I can only have two other projects, max, to spend my time on. That said, I set up my system for both work and home. My projects currently are:
* memoir
* photography business
* screenplay (halfway on the backburner)
* personal to do's (dr appointments, etc.)
* section 2 of report
* section 4 of report
* backburner projects/ideas (my fiction book is on this list)

I have started carrying these cards with me everywhere, so I can jot down action steps to do, new projects for the back burner, or other stuff.

Mr. Belsky makes the point that people take a lot of notes, and then files them away. He wants you to stop saving all of these notes and other items. Filing everything away is taking too much time. In my case, I end up with piles of stuff to organize all of the time. Instead of working on my projects, I often decide to get organized first, letting my projects further languish. So, I bought a box with a lid, and put everything from my desk into the box. Now, I just sort through the box once a month while watching crime shows.

The author also spends a lot of time explaining how projects don’t get done without help. Without the support of your community, you are unlikely to get very far with your creative endeavors. He lists out a few websites to find like-minded people.

Finally, he talks about leadership and the qualities of a good leader. This chapter and the others are peppered with stories that have had success in their lives from their personal projects.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I think he makes some excellent points about how to get your work done when you are your own boss. The book does slow down a bit at the end, but I suppose that always happens with these kinds of books. On a strange note, the book jacket feels funny. I mean the paper itself.
Profile Image for Marcus.
311 reviews292 followers
January 27, 2011
Even though it is written by a different author, this book reads like a sequel to David Allen's über-famous Getting Things Done (GTD), only this time geared specifically toward the broad category of anyone who creates, a.k.a. creative people. Like GTD, the concepts here aren't particularly exciting but I'm hoping that like GTD, they'll be life-changing.

Since reading GTD several years ago the concepts of "what's the next action" and having a trusted system for tracking projects have become firmly engrained in my life and work. They work. Even so, I still find that I have a ton of projects that are started, and despite having clear "next-actions," for whatever reason I haven't finished them. That's where Making Ideas Happen comes in. This book begins by explaining a similar system to GTD. Belsky calls his version "The Action Method" (with a nod to David Allen). The basic components are:

-Projects organized by actions (your own and delegated), references and backburner items
-Minimal note taking
-Designed materials (nice paper, software, etc. to make you want to use your system)

There's, of course, a flowchart:

So far, all very familiar, all very GTD. The other 2/3rds or 3/4ths of the book begin to get interesting and contain new and interesting information that builds on familiar GTD concepts.

Belsky discusses prioritizing projects by energy levels.

Getting past the lulls excitement in projects:

Other topics are: How to kill ideas that lack potential. How creativity is about shipping more than ideas. How to focus meetings and meeting follow-ups toward creative goals. How constraints beget greater creativity. How to form rituals around productivity. How to harness the strengths of those around you to successfully complete projects. The benefit of sharing ideas (great section). How to get and give constructive feedback. How to organize groups and spaces to maximize creative productivity. How to self-market tastefully. How to manage creative teams and be a leader of creative people (there is quite a bit on this).

Definitely worth reading, probably multiple times. There is a lot to digest.
Profile Image for Monica Kim | Musings of Monica .
506 reviews533 followers
November 16, 2018
Although this book, “Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality” by Scott Belsky seems to be marketed towards the creative people and/or people in creative settings, I think this book is for everyone, whether you’re an entrepreneur, employee, at-home parent, or a retiree and/or is working on a side projects, professionally or personally, we all have ideas (small or big) that were are working to bring it to life & projects to its completion, but many of us struggle my with execution & implementation. And I am definitely one of them, I consider myself an initiator & very observant, and always have ideas floating in my head, but I never seem to do anything about them or would dabble for a bit, but lose interest real quick when I do. It’s actually quite pathetic & frustrating! So many ideas, time, and resources wasted. I study all the time, read tons of books, and listen to so many podcasts, but I find myself in the sidelines, time & time again...even though I’m always the one saying, “go for it,” “just do it,” and “take action.”
In this books, CEO & Founder of Behance, a world-leading platform for creative professionals, Belsky states that, idea generation is not the problem, but execution is, but it’s a skill that can be learned, and must be developed for ideas to come to fruition. For years, Belsky has studied execution and organization in the creative world & among the entrepreneurs, and how some people, teams, and organizations are able to consistently execute their ideas time and time again. In this books, he shares what’s he’s learned — the methods, strategies, sights, and best practices used by leading creative people and teams across industries. Then he lays out three components of making ideas happen: organization and execution, harnessing your community, and developing leadership capability
The content of the book isn’t anything groundbreaking, more of a refreshing reminder/refresher, but there are lots of valuable actionable ideas to takeaway, and he’s done his research & work. Think of it as productivity book for ideas. The work environment has changed so much, so not everything in this book is going to be pertinent to everyone, but there are valuable insights you can apply professionally & personally. The main takeaway for me is that the key to thinking differently about idea execution is in your ability to organize your ideas and manage your time wisely, just like for many things in life. Organization & productivity is they KEY, but so easier said than done. Scott advocates that “Everything in life should be approached as a project,” and every project can be broken down in to a set of practices which he calls, the “Action Method“. I really like many of the ideas of approaching ideas & project, and hope that I actually apply what I’ve learned. Highly recommend! 🤓✌️📖
Profile Image for Marie Poulin.
14 reviews37 followers
December 19, 2014
This book was exactly what I needed. As a creative that struggles with project management, timelines and tasks, this outlines a very practical system for actually getting things done daily. I've read "Getting Things Done", but I actually found this even more simplified and practical. It's all about thinking about everything as a Project, and learning to always create actionable items.
I personally found myself going "AH, YES, that's totally what I've been missing!", however, some of those concepts might already be things which many other readers already use... so I can understand the book may not necessarily appeal to all.
Overall, I found most of it a really good refresher on productivity, and I kept wanting to put the book down and get to work!

Profile Image for Angie.
126 reviews26 followers
December 10, 2011
Written founder of Behance, a company aimed at helping creative individuals become more productive. This book aims to share best-of practices. Despite the amount of knowledge Belskey must have on the topic, and the research that went into this book, the book was a major disappointment. I didn't learn much and struggled to find interesting, novel ideas here.

Belskey divided the book into three sections (Organization and Execution; The Forces of Community; Leadership Capacity). He first summarized the three sections. Then at the beginning of each section, he'd give a more detailed summary. Short sections, each organized around a Behance maxim, could have removed a lot of the fluff that came with the forced structure. I prefer the freewheeling style and tone of Re/Work, which is a concise, not too serious, and accessible-for-all book on principles for starting a business, written by the founders of 37signals. Belskey should had taken some cues from it.

The examples, often accompanied by unnecessary lead-ins giving context of how he knew the person, frustrated me. He often used one example to support a point, when several, presenting opposing ideas and various styles, would have strengthened his point and made it more accessible. For example, he details the R/GA CEO's paper based organization system (to make the point that having a system, regardless of the tech level, is important) but then doesn't profile anyone else in the same way.

Belskey's examples, along with his advertising agency lingo (e.g. brief), imply that he's geared this for the current people in the Behance network (designers, artists, brand planners) rather than just for anyone. That seems short-sighted. Clearly many people outside of that space have ideas that they want to make happen. And a nitpicky but still frustrating gripe: WHY does he use creative as a noun? To refer to a person as "a creative" is ridiculous. I know it's common in agency land, but it doesn't mean it's good practice.

Making Ideas Happen lacked pithiness and punch. Main points got lost in the blather. But the biggest problem was a lack of strong ideas. The execution is seriously lacking, which is ironic considering the topic.
Profile Image for Alex Memus.
327 reviews32 followers
May 18, 2018
A cool book. Too much non-connected stuff sometimes.
Still Action n Method is well defined. And watching on execution through creative professional lens worked for me.

Genius: 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. - Thomas Edison

Output-oriented creatives get recognition even w/o support of critics (James Patterson and 100+ bestsellers.)

So only finished projects make sense, not the ideas themselves.
Everything is a project.

Action Method:
1. Action Steps. To do lost with focus on what can be done next, only them move projects forward. Also add here tasks like: ensure and awaiting (management) and follow up. -> I killed all non-action steps and grouped to dos by projects (I used my goals from life plan).
2. References. A chronological, project-based list of all non-action items. -> For now I decided to skip them altogether. If needed I’ll find relevant documents on Mac / in messenger. Kept them only as BRDs for products in dev.
3. Backburner. A single entry point for creative ideas. -> Created a list and started to add there all the interesting stuff.

An unowned Action Step will never be taken.
Possible tool: in the end of the meeting ask everybody to name cation steps the wrote for themselves. So you can check for duplicates and missed ones.

Marketing works. So make your to do list beautiful, customized so you want to come back to it yourself. -> I added emoji to my wunderlist :)

Scott proposes to use single inbox and collect all the inputs there. However, that doesn’t work for me.

Three types of creatives:
1. Dreamers. Come up non-stop with good ideas, but don’t like to execute them.
2. Doers. Execute, execute, execute small set of ideas.
3. Polymaths / Incrementalists. Can switch between both modes to keep things fresh. Struggle with starting too many things at once -> Totally me :)

Energy Line: how much energy each project deserves (based on potential outcome not sunk cost)

Create community to develop your ideas.
Sharing your ideas increases the odds of your ideas ultimately happening.
Chris Anderson posts ideas to his blog, then discusses them with readers and then some of them develop onto the books.
When you write a blog, you do marketing. And you market your way of thinking which is critical for consulting.
Also, you’ll more likely to get more resources if you publicly commit (TED grants and Scott being hesitant to make introduction before the entrepreneur goes public with here new business).

Initiative trumps skill. Hire “initiators”.
Conflict is actually good for progress and idea generation. One possible method: try to incorporate both extremes into the solution instead of taking watered-down middle ground.
Don’t settle for consensus within your team, as this will always bring about the lowest common denominator solution which offends and satisfies no one.

Storytelling workshop where iterations are made only via praise (critique is forbidden).

The society judges the way genius artist live, but admires there work. So you can feel pressure if you’re live your own unconventional way. Which doesn’t mean that it’s a wrong road (actually you’re right on track).
Profile Image for Јована.
22 reviews1 follower
February 22, 2021
Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between vision and Reality - Scott Belsky

An entertaining non-fiction about making ideas happen, as the title suggests. It was a refreshment of memory for some things I already know in theory. Lots of gentle reminders about progress, self-doubt and sharing with others. I did find myself itching to get back to some of my personal projects and indulge in hobbies that I've abandoned for some reason or another. It reminded me of how much I have yet to learn regarding the creative fields and the importance of being process-oriented rather than goal-oriented. I'm glad I picked it up.

Here are some quotes from the book that I really liked;

"When you are not talking, you should be listening."

"Appreciations is a technique that O'Callahan and other storytellers use to improve students' skills without any demoralizing consequences. It's a unique form of feedback that helps creative professionals focus on developing their strengths."

"The exchange of appreciations is meant to help you build upon your strengths, with the underlying assumption that a creative craft is made extraordinary through developing your strengths rather than obsessing over your weaknesses."

"It is strange that, in our culture, we are trained to look for weaknesses. When I work with people, they are often surprised when I point out the wonderful crucial details - the parts that are alive. If our eyes are always looking for weakness, we begin to lose the intuition to notice the beauty."

"Good judgement comes from experience, and experience - well, that comes from poor judgment."

"It is not naïve or a cliché to say that the creative mind holds the answers to all of the world's problems. It is merely stating a fact. And so, you should balance your desire to use your creativity with a sense of responsibility. Please take yourself and your creative pursuits seriously. Your ideas must be treated with respect because their importance truly does extend beyond your own interests. Every living person benefits from a world that is enriched with ideas made whole - ideas that are made to happen through your passion, commitment, self-awareness, and informed pursuit."
Profile Image for Stefan-Iulian Tesoi.
Author 2 books9 followers
December 2, 2017
Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality
This is my second time reading this book, the first time being about two years ago. I don't usually read a book twice or more unless it's worth it so without further introduction let's get into the good stuff.

The primary takeaway from this book would be the Action Method which has three components: Action Steps, References, and Backburner Items. The action steps are all the incremental objectives that you have to take in order to move forward with your project, the references are basically all the information sources that you have to consult from time to time in order to achieve the action steps and the backburner items are tasks that you might want to do in the future.
"Like most creative people, I’m sure you struggle to make progress in all of your projects, with the greatest challenge being the sheer number of projects before you! But once you have everything classified as a project, you can start breaking each one down into its primary components: Action Steps, References, and Backburner Items. Every project in life can be reduced into these three primary components. Action Steps are the specific, concrete tasks that inch you forward: redraft and send the memo, post the blog entry, pay the electricity bill , etc. References are any project-related handouts, sketches, notes, meeting minutes, manuals, Web sites, or ongoing discussions that you may want to refer back to. It is important to note that References are not actionable—they are simply there for reference when focusing on any particular project. Final y, there are Backburner Items—things that are not actionable now but may be someday. Perhaps it is an idea for a client for which there is no budget yet. Or maybe it is something you intend to do in a particular project at an unforeseen time in the future."

Start your Actions Steps with a verb "call, install, research, update" and so on. Make sure you always capture Action Steps everywhere, note them down as soon as they pop into your mind.
"Capture! Capture Action Steps relentlessly. During a brainstorm or a meeting, or on the run, you will generate ideas, and those ideas will disappear unless they are broken down into concrete verb-driven Action Steps. Collect them using whatever notebook or technology option you desire—but try to keep Action Steps separate so they stand out amidst your References and Backburner Items."

If you are delegating someone else to execute the Actions Steps it would be a good idea to check the execution through "Ensure Action Steps" type of...Action Steps. Another type of managerial Action Steps is the "Awaiting Action Step":
 "The last type of managerial Action Step is the “Awaiting Action Step”. When you leave a voicemail for someone, send a message to a potential customer, or respond to an e-mail and clear it from your in-box, you’re liable to forget to fol ow-up if the person fails to respond. By creating an Action Step that starts with “Awaiting,” you can keep track of every ball that is out of your court."

The two-minute rule: if the Action Step can be done in under two minutes do it right away.

Always be shipping, always move forward, consider this your main obligation:
"Godin made the case that shipping is an active mind-set rather than a passive circumstance. “When you run out of money or you run out of time, you ship. . . . If your mind-set is ‘I ship,’ that’s not just a convenient shortcut, it’s in fact an obligation. And you build your work around that obligation. Instead of becoming someone who’s a wandering generality—and someone who has lots of great ideas and ‘if only, if only, if only,’ you are someone who always ends up shipping.”"

Ultimately, success is a numbers game, it usually takes a lot of tries and failures to get to that winning idea (and this why it's important to always ship):
"The truth is, creativity isn’t about wild talent as much as it’s about productivity. To find a few ideas that work, you need to try a lot that don’t. It’s a pure numbers game. —Robert Sutton, professor of management science and engineering, Stanford School of Engineering ."

The old reptilian brain is the source for the fear of risk and the fear of failure and one of the main forces holding us back:
"But the primal tendencies of the lizard brain to keep us safe by avoiding danger and risk are still potent. After the biology lesson, Godin explained that “every single time we get close to shipping, every single time the manuscript is ready to send to the publisher, the lizard brain speaks up. . . . The lizard brain says, ‘They’re gonna laugh at me,’ ‘I’m gonna get in trouble . . .’ The lizard brain [screams] at the top of its lungs. And so, what happens is we don’t do it. We sabotage it. We hold back. We have another meeting.” The lizard brain interferes with execution by amplifying our fears and conjuring up excuses to play it safe."

Creativity works well with constrains in making ideas happen:
"It turns out that constraints—whether they are deadlines, budgets, or highly specific creative briefs—help us manage our energy and execute ideas. While our creative side intuitively seeks freedom and openness—blue-sky projects—our productivity desperately requires restrictions. "

Other subjects in this book are: the stories of how Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos and Ji Lee former Creative Director at Google put their ideas into practice, the three categories of creative persons: the Dreamers, the Doers and the Incrementalists, the importance of architecture and the workplace in the productivity of the creative process, the concept of ROWE (Results Only Work Environment).

A good conclusion-quote to end this review would be this one:
"IT SHOULD BE clear by now that organizing life into a series of projects, managing those projects with a bias toward action, and always moving the ball forward are critical for execution."

Initially posted on stefantesoi.com
Profile Image for Rachel Acalinei.
69 reviews2 followers
September 6, 2021
Good practical advice. It's aimed at 'creatives' (designers, artists and so on..) - people who are excited by ideas and have energy to explore and create, but aren't always as disciplined as they could be at getting practical and organised to get things done.
Loved the quotes and the way they organized the chapters, and easy to apply the exercises in your own life.
Profile Image for Allen Plummer.
Author 1 book3 followers
August 16, 2012
It's interesting that so many reviewers on Goodreads feel passionately about this book one way or the other. I personally, greatly enjoyed the book, but will fully admit to enjoying the Behance website 99u. I also knew enough of the book to realize that it is in fact about how a creative individual produces results, not the usual "break out your inner creative" peptalk used by so many authors.

For serious artists who have more ideas than time, the temptation to move onto a new project constantly exists. If you're a writer, musician, painter, photographer, or other artist who has these kinds of problems (unfinished projects, tons of notes on potential projects, self-sabotaging a project as it nears completion), then you'll find this book helpful.

In general, the book suggests an organization structure (not a full-blown system like GTD) for creatives, with an eye towards producing tangible results. It also provides a section about leadership of creative individuals, which could come in handy for anyone in the marketing or advertising fields. (I personally found this section helpful in my day job, since I've managed creative projects for the past 15 years.)

So is the book for everyone? No. But if you're a creative individual who wishes that they had more to show for their efforts, or want to simply become a bit more structured in how they create and manage their time, I recommend the book. I'm sure I'll be revisiting it again.
Profile Image for Sarah.
112 reviews34 followers
March 21, 2013
Repetitive, unfocused, and generally unremarkable. The only thing that kept me reading were the occasional one-liners that really did encapsulate intelligent thoughts about productivity, teamwork, and focus.

This book varied between theoretical ramblings that were vague to the point of being useless and excerpted interviews with famous people who talked about their productivity philosophies. I wish there had been more direct suggestions about productivity techniques and combining creative dreaming with practical doing. The sections on finding work partners and forming teams were interesting, but they made up less than 10% of the entire book.

I read the entire book and never really felt like there was a focused message--just some gentle suggestions and a lot of philosophical rambling. I probably should have given this up before the end, but I kept reading through to see if the text would ever gather into a strong, cohesive point.

It's rare that I say "Oh thank God" when I finish a book, but I said it this morning.
Profile Image for Elaine Nelson.
285 reviews35 followers
July 12, 2010
I've been torn between giving this 1 or 2 stars, or 4 stars, so 3 it is. The good parts are fascinating, and I think potentially very useful to me in work and at home. Some smart techniques and interesting quotes. I may even recommend it to my colleagues.

On the other hand...it's hard for me to take seriously a book that uses "thought leader" non-ironically. And so it has a lot of that sort of thing going on: oh, look, there's Chris Anderson! Malcolm Gladwell! IDEO! etc., etc. And plenty of eye-rolling material for sure.

So if you can get past the eye-rolling, it's probably worth reading. Thankfully, it's pretty short. (I read it in an afternoon while sitting in the park.)
Profile Image for Michael Rubin.
27 reviews6 followers
March 7, 2011
Normally, I'm resistant to popular new business books. Part of it is a natural urge to go against the grain, but all too often, I usually finish one of these titles feeling that the information is obsolete and inapplicable. I'm delighted to say that this is NOT one of those cases.

"Making Ideas Happen" is definitely not a "flavor of the month" book. The ideas and concepts are geared toward artists, but the productivity lessons here are perfect for anyone trying to effect change within an organization. I'm starting a new gig with a Fortune 300 company soon, and I've found many lessons that I can apply to achieve an entrepreneurial edge as a leader within the company.
Profile Image for Wes Baker.
61 reviews23 followers
February 8, 2017
While this book has plenty of good points (taking responsibility, using your time wisely, improving teams) I feel that it's more of a rehash or a summary of recent rediscoveries. It's worth a read if you've been out of touch with productivity, time management and team dynamics, but if you've been paying attention, I wouldn't take the time to read this book.
Profile Image for Kamal.
181 reviews24 followers
October 18, 2013
This book talks big but doesn't deliver. As many other readers have noted, David Allen's GTD is much better and will actually help you realize goals and projects. I would also recommend Twyla Tharp's book, The Creative Habit, instead of this schlock. Belsky's book, on the other hand, is just a protracted advertisement for his company, Behance. Disappointing, bland and surprisingly useless.
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews111k followers
September 2, 2016
Inspiring, insightful, and just the type of book I needed during this time in my life. Raises self-awareness and provides concrete action steps, which is exactly the combination I want in a nonfiction.
Profile Image for Jorge Suárez.
2 reviews2 followers
March 13, 2012
Avanzando finalmente con este!!!! Que ya merece y traía atorado de rato! gracias hermanitou!!! @sandovalr muy necesitado en estos y todo momento sin duda! O.o
Profile Image for Hasan Başusta.
9 reviews157 followers
May 16, 2017
İçinde büyük bir fikir barındırmayan, fikirleri nasıl gerçeğe dönüştürebileceğimizin bildik yollarını sıralamış sıradan bir kitap.
Profile Image for Rowena Morais.
20 reviews4 followers
February 10, 2013
Title : Making Ideas Happen. Overcoming the Obstacles between Vision and Reality
Author : Scott Belsky
Published by : Portfolio Trade
Year of publication: 2012
ISBN-10: 1591844118
ISBN-13: 13 978 1591844112
Detail : Paperback
Availability: Borders

The way to get things done.

I am sure that the challenge created by the gap between the things we think we’d like to achieve and what we actually achieve is one that many of us face. So it is always interesting, for me especially, to read or find out more about those who achieve traction in this space ie are able to execute. This book is definitely worth looking into especially if execution is an area you want to focus on, whether you’re a creative type or not. What I’d like to do is outline the ten ideas from this book that I believe are worth taking note of.

I am sure that the challenge created by the gap between the things we think we’d like to achieve and what we actually achieve is one that many of us face. So it is always interesting, for me especially, to read or find out more about those who achieve traction in this space ie are able to execute.

I recently read this book, by Scott Belsky, the founder and Chief Executive of Behance. It's definitely worth looking into especially if execution is an area you want to focus on, whether you’re a creative type or not. What I’d like to do here is outline the ten ideas from this book that I believe are worth taking note of and drawing reference to, from time to time. What I’ve got below is my understanding and my take on these points.

1. 100 x 0 = 0. 50 x 2 = 100.
Spending all your time on that one thing but not going the whole hog and making it happen means nothing happens. But taking some of your ideas, and pushing them ahead, maybe even going as far as to put it out there (I have got to put this out there now or I never will. If I keep tweaking this, it will always be one step away from perfection yet never see daylight) will mean that you will achieve much more than ever before. That’s a powerful idea to make your dreams come through. No one wants their dreams to just stay dreams. Surely, we’d want to turn our dreams into reality. Right?

What this showed me is that ideas are good, and we may have tons and tons of them. But what makes the difference is when you develop action around it. Action is what moves it from the land of possible into what’s real.

If you want to get things done, don’t leave it to chance, don’t leave it to a community, a gathering. Put a name on it. Make that person accountable. Whoever that may be.

We might get duped into thinking (at least that is what I thought at times as well) that taking notes, writing stuff down is getting things done. But it might not be. And it doesn’t always lead to the kind of action that generates results. Often, it does not lead to action and could actually interfere with any bias towards action.

i. action items – clear lists of things that you need to get done.
ii. reference material – notes that gives you the background/history/collateral around what you’re working on.
iii. backburner stuff – stuff to be actioned off but for a later time.

You need to do both but you need to separate the two into lists. Keep this handy as a constant reference point to guide you in prioritising action.

This is the kind of work you do where you are merely going with the tide and where you work on what floats to the top of your pile. No proactive decision making here. It can masquerade and feel very much like work but it is not good. Instead of focusing on what’s important to you or what you feel you need to get done, you spend way too much time on staying afloat. Stop to pause and reflect and its best to start your day with this so that you are guided rather than pushed/pulled.

Keeping at it is key. Accepting failure as part of that journey and part of the learning curve is key.

You know the stuff with no real outcome? Reading who’s tweeted or read your posts? Checking site stats? It takes only a few minutes each time but when done obsessively (because you don’t think you are obsessing and its only a matter of minutes really), there are two things at play. Firstly, it doesn’t move things forward. Secondly, it gets in the way and the flow of what you know you need to get done.

Not everything is clear and certain at the point you need it to be. Suffice it to say that sometimes, you need to act and make decisions in situations where things are unclear, maybe even hazy. And you may also find that at times, there is a clarity you arrive at, when things have come to pass. I think that when working in the creative sphere, or when embarking on innovative programmes or projects or when you feel you’re on the cutting edge, having that tolerance for ambiguity means that so much more in terms of what’s possible can be opened up for you....because you’ve allowed it to.- Ed

(This post first appeared as a post on Rowena Morais' blog on 19 December 2012.)
Profile Image for Esben Kranc.
92 reviews9 followers
April 15, 2022
A wonderful book that points out sustainable and healthy ways to make ideas happen consistently and creating a personal and organizational culture of ownership and accountability. I give it 5 stars because it's a book that resonated a lot with my existing thoughts about these topics from a cognitive science perspective.
7 reviews
January 26, 2019
It's a must-read for those who want to realize an idea. Clear guidelines and related examples.
August 5, 2021
i read this a long time ago but from what i remember i only made it half way through the book. it was not good actually. there are better books out there about creativity and entrepreneurship and making your ideas come to life. but this isn’t it…for me at least.
36 reviews4 followers
October 10, 2022
Me gustó bastante que tiene metodologías para pasar a la acción, generalmente tenemos muchas ideas pero nos cuesta ejecutarlas. Es demasiado extenso dando ejemplos, este libro puede ser más corto porque finalmente hay metodologías pero son más los ejemplos que da.
3 reviews4 followers
August 21, 2016
It is like a daily reminder or a daily tip book which I was reading while traveling every morning to office in the bus.

The books cover on the topic of organization and execution, the forces of community and Leadership capability.

Each topic has lot of sub-topics but there are really an extraordinary sub-topics which are thought provoking to realize how we have been working so far.

Few points which I would recommend to any one

1. Action method by Scott Belsky:
He recommends that Each projects can be broken down into (a) actionable items, (b) Backburner items and (c)reference items. So when you follow this method you are grouping your information into a certain category which allows you to focus and stay you organized.

For example: Let's say i need to create a marketing strategy for a brand. After research and brainstorming with my team, I can group all those information into this three items > The actionable items which am going to execute > The backburners which are less priority or not suitable to execute now > Reference items which are like stats, facts, case studies, plans,etc which can be referred always.

By doing this our things are organized, when things are organized in your home > will you get stress to find something? or will you be lost at any of your time? NOPE, You know what to do and focus.

That's how the action method helps you staying focused and productive!

2. Managing energy across projects
Study shows that our energy are used heavily when we try to think too much or try to stress out our brain. when does a brain stress out? It's when we need to solve a big problem or making unnecessarily a small problem into a big problem. Meaning to say when you do multi tasking few small or big items simultaneously, you are thinking about two different things which lead your brain stress > Which use up your lot of energy than normal.

So he explains a way to prioritize your thing and focus on it.
- Know and review what is urgent and important (create a two task list and work on important items)
- choose five projects that matter most
- Make a daily focus area
- Don't dwell into urgent items yourself.
- Use positive nagging technique with collegues.
For example: There is a urgent issue that need to be solved and it was supposely need to be done by someone else who may delay due to certain circumstance but you try to solve it by thinking "This is a important fix which we can do ourself" By doing this, you are missing your focus on the important items and work on urgent item. So your energy and time is wasted!

3. Execution: Project Plateau
A master piece advice for entrepreneurs and startups, this suits them the best because this people always try to implement too many new ideas and lose the focus. In final, execution failed.

I was affected by this problem for long time. Whenever we get new ideas, our energy is at peak and do the execution but when we get too many new ideas, we lose our focus on the last idea and change the focus to new idea. In result, all your ideas execution graph goes up and killed slowly `in the midst of execution while new idea arise.


Tips: Kill ideas liberally, Measure meetings with action steps, Have constraints and restrictions. (read briefly on the book)

4. Harnessing the power of community
In startup, we fall in love with our idea and have a blind belief that our idea is UBER DUBER INNOVATION :P and forget to listen to the community feedbacks and support. Community is your team, mentors, clients or customers or your friends or your family!

He says there are three type of people who can be identified and to help our project succeeded. They are the dreamers, the doers, and the incrementalist.

DREAMERS: are the people who are always generating new ideas and they jump from one new business idea to another.

DOERS: They don't imagine much but they are obsessively focused on the execution.

INCREMENTALIST: Have the ability to play both role. For example: While you are sitting in a meeting and there is a idea suddenly arised in your mind. You don't stop there but you continue imagining how to execute those ideas with impatient.

He argue that Incrementalist are very few but they have the tendancy to conceive and execute too many ideas simply because they can.

SO YOU NEED TO FIND WHO YOU ARE. If you are a dreamer, partner with a doers and vice versa. Incrementalist thrive when they try to partner with any doer or dreamer. ALWAYS REMEMBER TEAM WORK IS THE WINNING STRATEGY.

Secondly,use the community power, share the ideas liberally, collect feedbacks and capitilize on it.

Apart from all other topics, this above topics was a inspiration and worth to implement!
158 reviews4 followers
April 27, 2014
Some tips from this book:

Action Method for creative projects - involves organizing the project into Action Steps, References and Backburner items.
List down all your projects based on the level of energy that it requires - Extreme, High, Medium, Low, Idle. Projects placed at the Extreme end should be the most important for the time being.

- keep 2 lists for action steps, one for urgent and one for important and preserve different periods of time to focus on these
- choose 5 projects that matter the most, family being one of them
- make a daily focus area - grab 5 action steps that you want to focus on today
- don't hoard urgent items
- create windows of time for uninterrupted focus

Always keep the ball moving forward.
Have a "keep shipping" mentality.
Keep relentlessly following up.

Walt Disney - 3 different rooms to foster ideas and assess them. Room one: idea generation without restraints, room two: Aggregate and organize, room three: critically review the project without restraint.

Setup "challenge" meetings (called "thrashings") periodically where only one in the team can ask critical questions.
Use progress as a motivational force by having "Done Walls" with completed action steps.

Share Ideas Liberally (through blogs or circles). Shared ideas and feedback received leads to incremental innovation.

Feedback: solicit feedback from team in terms of what they need to START, STOP, CONTINUE doing.

Harnessing the forces around you to make things happen
- Transparency boosts communal forces
- Seek competition to keep challenging yourself
- Commit yourself in order to commit others
- Create systems for accountability
- Create a pressure of being in the spotlight
- Seek simulation from serendipity by reading or reviewing subjects that are not related

- Overcome stigma of self-marketing
- "respect-based" self-marketing
* identify differentiating attributes
* develop a communications strategy
* execute communications strategy
-find your own frequency, and tune in to engage others

Leadership Capabilities
- be willing to go without "success" in the eyes of others
- trick yourself to stay engaged by creating a set of incremental rewards for long-term pursuits
- do not hoard ownership of successes

Creative Team
- probe candidates for their true interests and extent to which the candidate has pursued those interests
- Create a "T" team - people with general breadth of skills that support collaboration and deep expertise in a single area
- Foster an immune system that kills ideas
- create environment so that teams are comfortable fighting out their disagreements and diverse points of view, but they share conviction after the meeting. Recognize that purpose of disagreement is to fully explore the options
- share collective ownership of ideas
- leaders should talk last
- judge leadership capability of peers, superiors during conflict situations
- during crisis, encourage teams to step back and regain perspective, quit blaming and start brainstorming solutions
- develop others through power of appreciation
- ask people where they go for help - identify these hot spots - then listen to them and empower them

- self-awareness in a safe atmosphere
- develop tolerance to ambiguity
- During failure, document
* what external conditions explain the failure
* what internal factors have compromised judgement
* are there any gems in the unintended outcome?
- think "contrarianism" - act of purposely thinking against then grain when approaching problems and brainstroming new ideas
- Be willing to be deviant (unpopular, misunderstood and even shunned during creative pursuits)
- Have a backward clock (if you were told the exact day your life would end, would you manage your time and energy differently?)
- Have an enduring love for idea or interest to push you past obstacles and allows you to continue practising the craft because they love the process more than the outcome

Book: The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation (Ollie Johnson)
Profile Image for Joe Woolworth.
24 reviews6 followers
November 8, 2012
One of the problems I have as a “freelance guy” is finding a productivity system that works. I have tried a couple different types of strategies to organize my workflow, but the problem is: I GET BORED.

I am a creative person and so one of my least favorite things is spending time on the details and not on the ideas. But, I know it is necessary and I am actually pretty good with the details, however normal productivity plans haven’t seemed to work for me.

That is why when I read what this book was about I got excited. It is a way to maximize your productivity for creative people. A system designed to capitalize on my strengths and rather than just remind me of my weaknesses it helps me to strengthen those areas. The plan is called ACTION METHOD.

Action Method is an online productivity platform that is taking the place of other project management software like basecamp. It is easy to use, clean, and designed well.

There is currently a free trail version available where you can use it to create 50 action steps.

While I was hesitant to try another gimmick type organization strategy I decided to try it and “I REALLY ENJOY IT.” And I never thought I would enjoy my productivity management.

Of course the book does feel a bit like an advertisement for the actionmethod.com (and it unashamedly is, because he feels it is the best solution available.)

So here are a couple things I really liked about “Making Ideas Happen”

1. Design matters when it comes to your to do list. He points out that we need to advertise to ourselves in order to keep our own attention. This might not mean much to you but it was a problem for me.

2. Organize your to do list into projects in order to focus on items that lead to action and refrain from reactionary workflow (working from your email inbox in the morning instead of prioritizing and setting your own schedule.)

3. The real world parables and stories to illustrate the points were challenging and applicable.

I enjoyed the fresh point of view of Scott Belsky and his take on issues such as “best practices”, “reactionary workflow”, “leadership”, “working with a team”, and “utilizing the power of community”.

This book is worth the read.

If you do freelance work or are thinking about dropping the 9 to 5 and working for yourself, do yourself a favor…

Buy this book.
Profile Image for Narendran Thangarajan.
49 reviews1 follower
November 24, 2020
Given the background of the author, when I picked up this book I was aiming to see the creativity-specific delta this book can provide on top of the general #GetThingsDone books. Interestingly the author has covered a wide variety of creatives and still managed to keep the book focused. I finished the book with a few takeaways to improve my idea-to-project-landing workflow. Specifically, I found the example of Joshua Bell's metro station performance very interesting (on the importance of marketing) and the importance of overhauling the team rewards/metrics when necessary. The latter rang a bell with the notion of indicators as mentioned in Andy Grove's High Output Management.

Quick read, and recommended if you are new to GetThingDone books.
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